ALLAHABAD, India — Anxious relatives searched for missing family members in northern India on Monday during one of the world’s largest religious gatherings, unsure if their loved ones were caught in a stampede that killed 37 people or had simply become lost among the tens of millions of pilgrims.
People thronged to the main hospital in Allahabad to see if relatives were among the dead and the 39 people injured in Sunday evening’s stampede at the city’s train station. Tens of thousands of people were in the station waiting to board a train when officials announced a last-minute change in the platform, triggering the chaos.
An estimated 30 million Hindus took a dip Sunday at the Sangam — the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati rivers — as part of the 55-day Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival. Sunday was one of the holiest days to bathe.
People missing at the Kumbh Mela is the stuff of legend in India and at least a dozen films have been made on the theme. On Sunday, like most other days, volunteers and officials used loudspeakers to give details of children and elderly people who were found on the river banks, having lost their families in the crowd. It was unclear how many people were missing because of the stampede.
On Monday, state government officials and railway authorities told reporters that they had taken all precautions to prevent such a tragedy.